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Book Chapter

Chilean water resources

By
José F. Muñoz (Coordinator)
José F. Muñoz (Coordinator)
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Bonifacio Fernández
Bonifacio Fernández
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Eduardo Varas
Eduardo Varas
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Pablo Pastén
Pablo Pastén
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Diego Gómez
Diego Gómez
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Pablo Rengifo
Pablo Rengifo
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Jaime Muñoz
Jaime Muñoz
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Mesenia Atenas
Mesenia Atenas
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Juan C. Jofré
Juan C. Jofré
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Published:
January 01, 2007

Abstract

This chapter examines the main characteristics of surface waters and groundwater deposits in Chile. The extreme variations in Chilean climate are reflected directly by huge differences in hydrological conditions, from the deserts of the north to the temperate rainforests of the south. The mountainous geomorphology, the presence of major basins, and the influence of the Pacific Ocean and the South Pole on oceanic currents and air masses, all also affect water distribution across the country. Anthropogenic demand for water resources, mostly for municipal wastewater, industry and agriculture, has created pollution problems that are currently being dealt with by application of new environmental legislation. Such problems are particularly acute in the north, where scarce water deposits, already commonly contaminated by naturally occurring metalliferous deposits, have been affected by extensive mining operations. In the centre of the country, where most of the population lives, the main challenges to a high quality water supply have been more associated with treating municipal wastewater. Further south, threats to clean water resources are often associated with effluents from cellulose plants and aquaculture.

The striking variations in Chilean climate from north to south, and therefore water supply, stem mainly from geographic location, topography and atmospheric circulation. The importance of geographic location derives from the position of the country along the southwestern side of the South American continent, with a corresponding strong influence from the Pacific Ocean and the South Pole. Movements of Antarctic and Subantarctic water currents and masses of polar air affect the whole country. Similarly,

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Geological Society, London, Geology of Series

The Geology of Chile

Teresa Moreno
Teresa Moreno
Earth Sciences Institute ‘Jaume Almera’, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Barcelona, Spain
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Wes Gibbons
Wes Gibbons
AP 23075, Barcelona, Spain
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Geological Society of London
ISBN electronic:
9781862393936
Publication date:
January 01, 2007

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